Healthy Choices

Midtown Sacramento farmers market to see spring makeover

Justin Cutter of Compass Green shares his mobile greenhouse project at the midtown farmers market. The market will change its format in March, with more places to sit, more signs and a different layout.
Justin Cutter of Compass Green shares his mobile greenhouse project at the midtown farmers market. The market will change its format in March, with more places to sit, more signs and a different layout. Sacramento Bee file

One of Sacramento’s most popular farmers markets will take a break Feb. 28, only to return March 7th with what organizers say will be a fresher, more flavorful neighborhood offering.

The midtown farmers market, which first set up shop in a J Street parking lot in 2013 and expanded onto 20th Street in August, has already made a name for itself among the dozens of markets in the Sacramento area. Set in the heart of midtown across from the Midtown Art Retail Restaurant Scene strip, the Saturday event that runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. draws sizable crowds of shoppers, who peruse seasonal produce as well as wine, olive oil, bath products, beverages, baked goods and crafts from local artisans.

Unlike the city’s largest farmers market under the W-X Freeway on Sundays, the midtown market offers a number of community activities, such as live music, chef demonstrations and an edible garden. Those interactive elements will expand with the upcoming makeover, said Maritza Davis, co-founder of local event management company Unseen Heroes.

Unseen Heroes recently took on a management role for the market, which is owned by the Midtown Business Association. The company is behind some of the trendiest movements in Sacramento, including Gather Oak Park, mixers and proms at the Crocker Art Museum and the city’s first pop-up wedding chapel. This spring, they’re tasked with revamping the Saturday market into what Davis is calling “Farmers Market 2.0.”

“Business associations hire us to really look outside the box and implement concepts and strategies that are more current to what people are looking for,” she said. “We always look to take something that’s status quo and really bring it to a new level.”

For the market, this will mean rearranging the 50 or so local vendors into more of a strolling layout, where people can weave in between tents and stands rather than just walk up and down the street. As they move through the market, shoppers will find more seating options, kids’ areas and informational signage about seasonal produce. They’ll also see more of a presence from the many small businesses located in proximity to the market and more ways to interact with vendors.

One of the biggest goals is to create a space where people want to spend more time, Davis added. Her company has visited urban markets in Seattle, New York and Boston to glean inspiration for Sacramento.

“We want people to come out of their houses and connect with each other,” she said. “It’s not going to take away from the farmers market. It’s not going to become this huge street fair event ... it’s just going to have the consistency and comfort that people are looking for.”

Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Business Association, said she’d like to see current market attendance, usually between 700 and 1,000 people, get up to 1,500 each week. She’s also looking to add more quality farmers and to continue positioning the Saturday market as a “destination for gourmet eaters and for chefs.”

“This market is uniquely midtown in that every time you go, there are people on patios drinking a beer, half the people have come on bike, you’re shopping next to your neighbors, and you’re also shopping next to the region’s best chefs who are using the ingredients in that night’s specials,” she said.

Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.

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